Let’s stipulate that women can engage in combat, that they are just as brave and patriotic as men and they they can kill our nation’s enemies when they need to. The question is not can they, but should they? Let me put forth two arguments and then put you onto several more from a column by Kathleen Parker.
(1) Because women have the unique power to bear children, men have traditionally taken on the role of providing for them and protecting them. (This is not simply a matter of oppressing them, as feminists claim, but a matter of historical and biological necessity, as even Darwinists would admit.) Having women in combat undermines the traditional role of women (which, of course, is what feminists want), but it also undermines the traditional role of men (which is weak enough, what with the eclipse of fatherhood in our society, and to finish it off completely may not be wise).
(2) Male qualities generally described and often denigrated as “macho”–aggressiveness, a potential for violence, bravado, recklessness–are uniquely channeled in combat, where their purpose is fulfilled. Women in combat will inevitably result in a feminization of the military, which risks thwarting its purpose and making it ineffective.
Now listen to Kathleen Parker:
The most salient point happens to be a feminist argument: Women, because of their inferior physical capacities and greater vulnerabilities upon capture, have a diminished opportunity for survival. . . .
We’re potentially talking about 18-year-old girls, notwithstanding their “adult” designation under the law. (Parents know better.) At least 18-year-old males have the advantage of being gassed up on testosterone, the hormone that fuels not just sexual libido but, more to the point, aggression. To those suffering a sudden onset of the vapors, ignore hormones at your peril.
Now, hold the image of your 18-year-old daughter, neighbor, sister or girlfriend as you follow these facts, which somehow have been ignored in the advancement of a fallacy. The fallacy is that because men and women are equal under the law, they are equal in all endeavors and should have all access to the same opportunities. This is true except when the opportunity requires certain characteristics. Fact: Females have only half the upper-body strength as males — no small point in the field.
Further to the fallacy is the operating assumption that military service is just another job. The rules of civil society do not apply to the military, which is a top-down organization in which the rules are created to maximize efficiency in killing enemies. It is not just another job that can be managed with the human resources department’s Manual on Diversity and Sensitivity.
The argument that women’s performance on de facto front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan has proved concerns about combat roles unwarranted is false logic. Just because women in forward support companies can return fire when necessary — or die — doesn’t necessarily mean they are equal to men in combat.
Unbeknown perhaps to many civilians, combat has a very specific meaning in the military. It has nothing to do with stepping on an IED or suffering the consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It means aggressively engaging and attacking the enemy with deliberate offensive action, with a high probability of face-to-face contact.
If the enemy is all around you — and you need every available person — that is one set of circumstances. To ask women to engage vicious men and risk capture under any other is beyond understanding. This is not a movie or a game. Every objective study has argued against women in direct combat for reasons that haven’t changed.
The threat to unit cohesion should require no elaboration. But let’s leave that obvious point to pedants and cross into enemy territory where somebody’s 18-year-old daughter has been captured. No one wants to imagine a son in these circumstances either, obviously, but women face special tortures. And, no, the rape of men has never held comparable appeal.
We can train our men to ignore the screams of their female comrades, but is this the society we want to create? And though some female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have endured remarkable suffering, their ability to withstand or survive violent circumstances is no rational argument for putting American girls and women in the hands of enemy men.